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Western Union vs WorldRemit
We compare a tried-and-true company with a newer digital provider to help you learn who’s best for your next transfer overseas.
With both Western Union and WorldRemit offering cash transfers to many global destinations, picking between these two can be tricky. We’ve compared them on fees, exchange rates and transfer speeds to help make your decision a bit easier.
The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 29 January 2021.
Western Union and WorldRemit: How they work
Western Union and WorldRemit both offer ways to transfer your money online.
To use Western Union, go to its site, enter how much you’re transferring and to where, and see how much you’ll pay for the exchange. You also have the option of visiting an office, calling or using a mobile app to initiate a transfer. Once complete, Western Union converts and delivers your money to a bank account or makes it available for cash pickup at locations worldwide.
With WorldRemit, you go to its site, enter how much money you’ll be transferring and then send your funds to WorldRemit. When creating your transfer, you provide a mobile number for both yourself and your recipient, as well as a copy of your personal ID. Once approved, WorldRemit converts your currency and sends it to your recipient, who collects it via bank transfer, cash pickup or Mobile Money.
Which has lower fees?
Western Union’s remittance fees depend on how much money you’re sending, and where you’re sending it. It uses a tiered fee structure, in which the cost of sending money will increase at round numbers as the amount you send increases.
When sending money from Hong Kong, fees start from $0 depends on the payment method. Some payment methods like bank transfer or Tap & Go are free. If you use credit card to pay for the transfer, the fee starts from 15.00 HKD and would be 30.00 HKD for larger transfers.
WorldRemit’s transfer fees will be different depending on where you’re sending money. For many destinations, the online transfer fees are fixed at 25.00 HKD. There is no fee free transfer.
Winner: Western Union
In some cases, Western Union’s fees will be lower than WorldRemit’s, especially because there’s no fee for bank transfer.
Which offers better exchange rates?
Western Union’s exchange rates for HKD to USD are equivalent to about 0.40% above mid-market rates. This is essentially equivalent to an exchange rate “fee” of 0.40%.
As is typical for Western Union, and most other remittance companies, the exact exchange rates will fluctuate over time and will vary by currency.
We’ll use the example of a transfer to euros (EUR):
- If the mid-market rate is 1.00 HKD = 0.106433773 EUR
- Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1.00 HKD = 0.1060 EUR
WorldRemit’s exchange rates are around 1% above the mid-market rates, but the rate varies for each currency.
We’ll use the example of a transfer to euros (EUR):
- If the mid-market rate is 1 HKD = 0.106433773 EUR
- WorldRemit’s exchange rate might be 1.00 HKD = 0.1042 EUR
Winner: Western Union
Western Union wins, coming out with much more favourable exchange rates than WorldRemit will typically offer customers.
Which is faster?
The speed of your transfer will depend on the delivery method. Some transfers might take a day or two, while the fastest transfers can arrive at their destination in just minutes, although sometimes these will cost more.
The slowest are typically bank transfers, which can take up to five business days.
WorldRemit’s transfer speeds also depend on your transfer method.
Cash pick-ups, mobile money and airtime top-ups (when you top up someone’s mobile phone airtime) can arrive instantly.
Bank transfers and cash home delivery are slower though. Home deliveries can take up to seven days depending on the location, while bank transfers can take several days depending on where the money is going and what day of the week it is.
Both Western Union and WorldRemit offer similar transfer speeds and options.
In both cases, the faster choices can arrive in a few minutes, while the slower ones can take up to a week.
Which offers more options?
|Payment methods||Receiving options||Minimum and maximum transfers||Transfer speeds||Currencies|
|Western Union||Bank transfer, credit card, Tap & Go Wallet, cash||Bank account, cash pick-up location, e-wallet transfer||Minimum: 1.00 HKD|
Maximum: 392,000 HKD
|Same day||95+ currencies|
|WorldRemit||Credit/Debit card , Apply Pay||Bank account, cash pick-up location, e-wallet transfer, cash home delivery, airtime top-up||Minimum: 0.10 HKD|
Maximum: 40,000 HKD
|Within an hour||95+ currencies|
Western Union locations can be found all over the world, making it relatively easy to drop in and make a cash transfer. You can also send funds over the phone or at Western Union online.
You can track your remittance and receive confirmation that it has arrived at the other end via email or SMS.
You’ll need to add a recipient phone number when making WorldRemit transfers. This is to ensure they’re automatically updated on the progress of their transfer.
Both senders and recipients will be notified when a transfer is sent and again when it’s received.
WorldRemit offers more flexibility in terms of transfer methods, but Western Union comes out on top when comparing nearly every other aspect of your money transfer. If low fees, competitive exchange rates and quick transfers are your top priorities, Western Union is the clear choice.
Of course, it can help to compare your options to find the service that best fits your individual needs.
Looking for more options?
Use our calculator below to compare the fees, exchange rates and transfer speeds of leading international money transfer providers. Just enter the details in the calculator to see what fees and exchange rates you would get.
Frequently asked questions
What is WorldRemit’s airtime top-up?
WorldRemit offers airtime top-up as an option when sending money to a variety of different countries. When you send via airtime top-up, you essentially give your recipient money toward a prepaid phone service or, in some cases, extra data allowances.
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